Would you give a free gift in exchange for a review?

By Chris Dawson November 23, 2017 - 10:24 pm

Would you give away a free gift in exchange for a review? Toguard, a seller of consumer electronics, is willing to do just that and includes a leaflet explaining their process.

On offer is a choice of a car phone holder, a dual USB cigarette lighter power adaptor or an emergency window breaker and seat belt cutter. All a buyer has to do is email in the gift that they’d like along with their Amazon order reference and a link to your product review.

Product reviews definitely make a difference, especially if they’re positive. Over the years I’ve heard of all kinds of innovative schemes to encourage buyers to leave reviews, but this is the first time I’ve come across a merchant willing to incentivise reviews with a free gift.

Of course the gifts themselves are fairly low value items and it would surprise me if the cost of mailing out the free product cost more than the item itself. It’s still free for the buyer however and leaving a review doesn’t seem too much work if you fancy one of the items on offer.

How important are reviews to you – obviously they’re worth more if you have your own branded product in a crowded market with a ton of competitors than if you’re selling a manufacturers product and any reviews would also assist competing merchants. In this instance the product purchased was a car dash cam of which there are about a zillion to choose from so it would appear that Toguard think the incentive is worth increasing their number of reviews to stand out from their competitors.

  • Gary
    12 months ago

    I was under the impression that Amazon banned incentivised reviews last year…

  • JoeB
    12 months ago

    I got almost the same card when I bought some Bluetooth headphones a few weeks ago, with the offer of a free Bluetooth dongle.

    It’s shady practice IMO and I gave the device a solid 3 and mentioned the incentive in my review as a warning to other potential buyers. The headphones were ‘OK’ but I bought them on the strength of all the 5 star reviews which are obviously false because of the seller bribing them.

    It’s wrong.

    • 12 months ago

      Had you have given the product a 1 Star and a rubbish review would you still have got the free gift?

      You gave an honest review, what is to say that others did not?

    • JoeB
      12 months ago

      I don’t know. All I know is that it had 100s of 5 star reviews and it wasn’t a 5 star item so as far as I’m concerned the reviews were skewed because of the bribe.

      To be fair the note didn’t state that it had to be a 5 star review but human nature being what it is, I doubt anyone filling in the review to claim a freebie would give anything but 5 stars in fear of jeopardising their free pound shop widget.

    • 12 months ago

      “it wasn’t a 5 star item” in your opinion… Although you did say you gave it a solid 3.

      Some customers also get confused as to if they are reviewing the seller or the product.

      Getting reviews / feedback on Amazon is very hard, I have 10x more feedback on Ebay.

      Overall I think your idea that the reviews are better than they should be is probably founded due to the “ticking of boxes” without thought, for a free gift incentive. Although I do think customers who did not think it worthwhile would have said so.

    • JoeB
      12 months ago

      I’d have to disagree. If that were the case, all similar items would have high reviews too. In my opinion (and I spent several hours researching which to buy) the reviews on this item are artificially high compared to other similar items.

      The headphones simply weren’t as good as everyone was making them out to be.

    • james
      12 months ago

      as much as we can debate the effectiveness, and sift through the results, i think the fact that the scheme exists in the first place sort of proves it’s effective.

      this scheme isn’t brand new, if it were not effective (or yielded negative results) the sellers would no longer be spending money on such promotions.

      i place very little trust in customer reviews these days. The few people who can string together a coherent product review in english, are probably getting something in return for it. until they start reviewing reviewers, and properly weighting the crap to the bottom, same as the products, then they’re largely worthless.

      don’t get me wrong, if there’s a million 1-star reviews on a product i’ll probably pass, but for determining the better of two similar items? expert reviews or none at all please.

  • Paul
    12 months ago

    The seller is asking you for a review not for a GOOD review. What we don’t know exactly is how much weight is having the “user review area” on Amazon’s search formula.

    It’s clear that a products with more user reviews will get more exposure and my guess is that the formula is not able to asses the general rating of the reviews.
    So as long as a product is “hot” and has many reviews it will show on the top of the search. Simples !

    I don’t believe that motivating users to leave a review (not forcing them to leave good reviews) is unfair or illegal. After all, I’m more biased to buy a product reviewed by 500 users instead of one single Vine User.

  • Whirly
    12 months ago

    Google are clear, you shouldn’t. I imagine after this article gets picked up by AMZN Toguard are going to have their collar felt by one of Bezos’s heavies.

    Conflict of interest: Reviews are most valuable when they are honest and unbiased. If you own or work at a place, please don’t review your own business or employer. Don’t offer or accept money, products, or services to write reviews for a business or to write negative reviews about a competitor. If you’re a business owner, don’t set up review stations or kiosks at your place of business just to ask for reviews written at your place of business.